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ALEXANDER VON   HU1MBOLBT.                123
tally and in layers, and resting on clay-slate., whose
layers were partly perpendicular, partly in an angle of
85 degrees. This was a highly-important fact for
Hurnboldt in his theory of the formation of granite.
When he had again arrived at the abovenamed
fortress, he proceeded thence through the steppe of
X&chirn, which belongs to the -central tribe of Khir-
gises, to the southern portion of the TTral chain; he
crossed the line of the Qossacks of Ischim over Semi-
piatinsk and Omsk, and arrived at Mjask. From
here, frequent excursions were made into the vicinity.
On a district of inconsiderable extent, and only a few
inches below the sxirface, three pieces of pure gold
were found, of which two weighed 28 and the third
43^- marks (18 and 28 pounds). The course of the
southern Ural was followed as far as Orsk, where the
remarkable quarries of green jasper attracted Huin-
boldt's attention, and where his geological studies
found abundant scope in the river Jaik3 which
crosses the mountain-ridge in a north-western direc-
Humboklt now turned his course to Orenburg,*
where he arrived by the road over Guberlinsk, on the
21st September. Here in Orenburg, where caravans
of many thousand camels arrive yearly, Humboldt
made the acquaintance of a certain Herr von Gens,
who was a very intelligent man, and interested him-
self particularly for the geography of Asia, for which
he had collected a quantity of important materials.
He had travelled far, and Humboldt gained many
useful explanations and descriptions from him. Among
others, he learned of a high mountain, which had
once been a volcano, and which still disturbs the
passing caravans by storms which it is said to occa-
sion, and whose anger the inhabitants propitiate by
sacrifices of sheep, situated to the north-east of tiste
great Balkasch lake, which receives the waters of the
river Sli. Gens had this communication from a Tartar,
Orenburg lies below the level of the sea.